Actual Size: ½” to 1”

Characteristics: Black or dark brown, usually with yellow markings.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: May nest underground or in paper carton nests made up of chewed cellulose found in eaves or attics


  • Can sting repeatedly and cause allergic reactions in some
  • Social insects that live in colonies with up to 4,000 workers
  • Most active and aggressive in late summer when colony populations peak

Yellowjackets in Knoxville TN

Yellowjackets are likely the most known wasp in the nation. There are several species but typically have a black and yellow striped body with yellow legs. These beneficial wasps live in colonies with thousands of individuals and would be a lesser threat to humans, were it not for their opportunistic behavior of nesting in structural voids, attics, and cavities associated with landscaping features. Adult yellowjackets feed mainly on fruit juices and other sweet liquid materials, whereas their larvae are fed bits of soft-bodied insects like caterpillars and flies. In the late summer and fall months, they tend to get aggressive and may sting repeatedly when they feel threatened.

Yellowjacket Nests

Yellowjackets can nest both below the ground and above the ground. Above-ground nests are found among the leafy branches of trees and shrubs and also on structures. Occasionally, the nest may be constructed on the side of a building, in wall voids, under eaves, crawlspace, and attics. The entrance of the nest is normally a hole located at the bottom. These aerial nesters don’t become scavengers in the fall, but they are extremely defensive when their nests are disturbed. This makes it very important to never attempt to approach or knockdown a nest on your own.

Yellowjacket Habits & Dangers

Yellowjackets have the capability of stinging repeatedly due to their smooth stinger. They may sting if they feel threatened or if their nest is being approached. Yellowjackets also get especially aggressive in the late summer and fall months as their colonies grow and resources become more sparse. Yellowjacket stings can cause a wide range of symptoms. Some individuals are more sensitive than others, due to allergic reactions, and should seek medical attention when stung.

Sometimes yellowjackets living in wall voids chew their way through the drywall and enter the structure’s living space. Whether you notice these wasps indoors or have spotted a nest forming on your property, always contact a licensed wasp removal specialist.